“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” -Anne Lamott
Most of us need to make a conscious effort to take a break from technology as our electronic devices are just too addictive to put down. For me, the best break from technology is to be without a WiFi connection. This forced break brings my focus back to the present and allows me to be in touch with my inner self. I recently returned from a backpacking trip into the heart of the North Cascades National Park where I was without a WiFi and cellular connection for five days. At first, it was tough to let go of my desire to be entertained, distracted and generally attached to my phone. My phone feels like an extension of me and when I cannot find it I can experience a mini panic attack. I was experiencing this panic-like feeling for about the first 24 hours of the trip and then something wonderful happened….I forgot about my phone and I began to interact in an authentic way with my surroundings.
When we truly unplug we are able to experience life at the pace where it is most natural – in real time. We can become present and self-directed. An expansive feeling begins to bubble up from our inner being as we get in tune to our environment and those around us.
To disconnect from electronics for an extended period of time is a real gift which rejuvenates and enlivens the soul.
Hopefully some of you are able to unplug over the summer and find some time to connect with nature, friends or family. If you have been lucky enough to do so, take a moment to reflect on this experience now and find the timelessness and spaciousness in that moment of connected bliss. The true beauty of unplugging is that you do begin to work again.
How to Unplug:
- Remove time sensitive distractions like watches and calendars. Find yourself asking what day is it and not caring about the answer.
- Play real games with real people.
- Read physical books – not digital ones.
- Be inspired by the world around you. Respond to environmental stimulus, not distractions provided by technology.
- Strive to learn about a destination through its people and culture. Travel expands your worldview and allows you to understand others on a plane that is impossible by any other type of knowing. When traveling in a foreign place, try not to search things out using your phone or the Internet. Instead, ask real questions of the people around you and get directions and recommendations. The physical interactions with the locals can bring out some hidden gems and it forces you to rely on others. You might be surprised what turns up!
- Spend time with people in their native environments. Eat meals with them and participate in their cultural ceremonies.
- Watch the sunset with friends at least once on your trip. Watch the sunrise too.
All of these exercises will help you get re-connected to the real world, instead of fighting against distraction with your device.